The Society of Jesus has had a clear horizon and purpose, to serve the Kingdom of God through faith rooted in justice and reconciliation. This mission has been made fruitful by the Holy Spirit throughout 500 years and by the continuous reading of reality that has unfolded and materialized over the years in the different apostolates of the order founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, one of them being the educational sector.
An example of this has been the work of the AJCU, comprised of 28 institutions, located in 17 states of the United States, in the District of Columbia and Belize. Universities and colleges that have dedicated their creativity, intellect, commitment, and service to the greater good of society.
Such universal action was evidenced in the virtual conference "Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education," hosted by Georgetown University in 2021. In this edition, participants reflected and dialogued on the Universal Apostolic Preferences in synergy with pressing issues in the framework of Higher Education, such as racial and environmental justice, migration, women's leadership and Ignatian spirituality.
This activity was inaugurated by Father General of the Society of Jesus, Arturo Sosa Abascal, who in his opening message considered the importance of active commitment to justice in our educational task.
“It is not enough just to talk; we need to do. We need to continue to deep in the processes of change, in the processes of conversion that began long ago and continue today in our university communities and in our countries.”
Likewise, the Jesuit Superior reiterated the changes that the pandemic has posed to us based on current needs, he said:
“The pandemic has struck us all. Which of our plans will change? How can we better accompany the young as they build a future of hope? How will new voices be heard in our classrooms? How will research be reshaped to respond to better the real needs? How can our intellectual work better point beyond ourselves toward a world that is more human?”
Dr. John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, in turn, recalled the legacy of former Father General Peter Hans Kolvenbach in which he called on universities to examine seriously the role of justice in all aspects of Jesuit higher education; an invitation to renew the commitment of universities. In light of the celebration of the Ignatian Year, DeGioia pointed to this gathering as an opportunity for joint reflection.
“This Ignatian Year provides us with another opportunity to reflect on the ways in which we are enlivened by the Jesuit tradition that connects us. We share a commitment to justice, to the work of encouraging this commitment in our students, urging them to have their hearts on fire, responding to the needs of the word with passion, with courage, and with urgency.”
Andria Wisler, executive director of the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service at Georgetown University and a member of the conference organizing committee, commented that during the planning of this virtual meeting they sought to offer dialogues and conferences that would serve as permanent resources for university communities, for continues reflection and action.
Therefore, we are sharing the conference materials with all our IAJU readers. We hope that these resources will serve as inspiration, reflection, and action to rethink the structures that must be transformed to transition to a more just and compassionate world.
The IAJU thanks the AJCU and the Organizing Committee for this extensive and important work for our Jesuit educational network.